Despite boasting the best combined set-piece in the competition in 2012, Force prop Pek Cowan believes there’s significant improvement left.
Last year’s Super Rugby competition saw the emergence of Tetera Faulkner and Salesi Manu as additional powerhouses in the Western Force front row.
With a season under their belt, the young duo has already been putting pressure on their more experienced counterparts – Pek Cowan, Salesi Ma’afu and Kieran Longbottom.
And while Cowan may be one of the veterans of the group with 60 caps to his name, he concedes the race is on for positions leading into the first match against the Rebels.
“The biggest improvement is in our depth,” he said. “We’ve got guys hot on our heels for positions – Tetera Faulkner, Salesi Manu, Kieran Longbottom. We’ve got that depth and it’s really pleasing to see.
“If one guy were to drop out, we’d have someone just as capable to take that position. That’s across the board now and especially in our backs so we’re really looking good.”
Now into his eighth pre-season with the Western Force, the inaugural squad member says there has been a noticeable difference this season with a new squad under the guidance of a new coaching staff.
Cowan added that it’s not solely on the field that the differences have been noticed during the pre-season.
“The biggest thing is there’s a lot more accountability,” he said. “It’s upon the individual and the group to lead the standards here and it’s filtered through the main squad but into the academy as well. The standards that we set here are setting the standard moving forward.
“We’ve [also] learnt a lot – attack-wise especially. We’ve got great depth across the park and I think leading up to the next three weeks we’ve worked really hard on getting our structure right and I think we’re really looking good.
“Attack across the field has been great and with the depth we’ve now got it puts us in good stead leading into the trial games.
With the Western Force’s first trial match against the Brumbies in Darwin less than two weeks away, Cowan has noticed that things are heating up with the start of the Super Rugby season knocking on the door.
“It starts getting a lot more competitive definitely, especially in the forwards,” he said. “There’s a lot more depth and so there’s a lot more guys challenging for positions. With only two trials until we start the season, there’s not much time to impress.
“So whenever we have a scrum session, lineout session or contact session is a time to impress and it’s always pretty tough.”
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